"So you really do have a way to capture Golden Marrow Crstyal Insects alive?" Han Li's expression remained unchanged, but he was internally ecstatic.
"Indeed. Us Luminous Beasts are able to identify such insects even among countless ore due to our natural abilities. Furthermore, we have a method to prevent these insects from turning into crystals," the small beast replied in a proud manner.
"Good. In that case, I can let bygones be bygones, and I can even supply Woodbud Flowers to you!" Han Li's expression suddenly eased.
"Really? What's your condition?" The small beast was initially quite elated to hear this, but it quickly realized that there had to be strings attached to this arrangement.
"It's quite simple; I'll give you as many Woodbud Flowers as you need, but in exchange, you have to give me a pair of Golden Marrow Crystal Insects per 10 flowers. On top of that, I'm also very interested in the Golden Coral Sand that's among the items you have to offer to the Tian Peng Race. You can exchange for one Woodbud Flower per tael of this sand," Han Li replied.
"The crystal insects are among the items that we have to offer, so we don't actually have a lot of them, and 10 of those pairs have already been promised to the Lord of Treasured Light," the small cow-headed beast said.
"The Lord of Treasure Light? That's just a metamorphosis stage sea beast; I can take care of it. I'll give you seven days to prepare and come to my cave abode to exchange for Woodbud Flowers. If you don't turn up by then, hehe..." Han Li's voice trailed off mid-sentence, but the implied threat was quite apparent. He swept a sleeve through the air and a gentle breeze was swept up, following which he abruptly disappeared on the spot.
The cow-headed beast and the three-headed python were quite startled to see this, and only then did they realize that the red threads they had been bound by had also vanished.
After recovering their freedom, the two demons beasts looked at one another, and after a long while, the three-headed python whispered to the cow-headed beast, "Is that man really gone?"
The cow-headed beast hesitated momentarily before opening its mouth to expel a green bead. The bead rotated in mid-air for a while before releasing an azure barrier of light that enshrouded both of the demon beasts.
"We should be fine now. This is a soundproof barrier set up with my inner core. If that man tries to eavesdrop on our conversation using his spiritual sense, then I'll definitely be able to sense him," the small beast replied.
The three-headed python was feeling much more reassured upon hearing this, and it asked, "Are we going to exchange for Woodbud Flowers with that man?"
"That's not something the two of us can decide; we have to discuss this with the others as well. However, if we want to gather all of the items required for this offering, then this appears to be our only choice," the small beast replied with a wry smile.
"Golden Marrow Crystal Insects and Golden Coral Sand are also very rare; if we use them to exchange for Woodbud Flowers, we may not be able to gather this much next time," the giant python reminded.
"We have no choice. The spirit insects and coral sand are indeed extremely difficult to find, but we'll be able to track them down as long as we're willing to invest more time. In contrast, the Tian Peng Race requires a vast quantity of Woodbud Flowers, and this flower is already extinct everywhere else aside from on the mountain that man is living in, so only he can provide them to us," the cow-headed beast said in a resigned manner.
"In that case, why don't we inform the Tian Peng Race of this when they deploy people to collect the offerings? That way, they can take care of that man in our stead," the three-headed python suddenly suggested.
"Hmph, that would be akin to suicide! Have you not learned your lesson from last time? Even if the Tian Peng Race really is capable of killing this man, they'll definitely take all of the Woodbud Flowers on that mountain, but we'll still be forced to offer the same amount of Woodbud Flowers in the future. If we tell them that the Woodbud Flowers are almost extinct in the Hidden Black Mountains, then do you think the Tian Peng Race will continue to let us live? If we supply insufficient Woodbud Flowers, we'll be severely punished regardless of how much extra of the other items we offer. Those Woodbud Flowers seem to be extremely important to the Tian Peng Race, and if it weren't for the fact that they're extremely wary of that Black Infernal Mist, they would've very likely deployed people to permanently settle on the island," the cow-headed beast replied in a cold voice.
"But if things continue like this, even if we manage to survive this ordeal, we won't be able to source everything required for the next offering, and we'd still end up with the same result. The Tian Peng Race has planted slave marks on our bodies, so we'll die from self-detonation as soon as we stray more than 5,000 kilometers away from this place," the three-headed python said in an urgent voice.
"I'm naturally aware of all this, but that's not a cause for concern. Have you forgotten the promise made to us by that powerful being within the Black Infernal Mist? As long as we can supply spirit stones to him for another century, he should be able to achieve full mastery of the abilities that he's cultivating, and he'll be able to wipe away our slave marks. When that time comes, we'll be able to escape without any qualms," the cow-headed beast said in a serious manner.
"But is that really a promise that we can rely on? Don't forget that even though he was a senior of ours, back when he fled for his life into the Black Infernal Mist, he devoured the core of a giant ancient ghost, so he possesses a half-ghost, half-demon body now. If something were to go wrong..." The three-headed python was rather hesitant.
"Are you worried that he won't keep his promise? You can rest assured; that senior also hailed from our Luminous Beast Race, and he has a blood vendetta against the Tian Peng Race, so he'll definitely side with us. Besides, we've been supplying him with spirit stones in secret for several centuries to support his cultivation; he has no choice but to help us," the cow-headed beast said with a shake of its head.
"Looks like I was overthinking things. Speaking of this Black Infernal Mist, I wonder what lies within it to elicit such a fearful reaction from the Tian Peng Race. Has that senior ascertained what's in there?" the three-headed python asked in a curious voice.
"He hasn't, but there's definitely something quite sinister in there. Even with his current power level, that senior only dares to remain in the outskirts of the Black Infernal Mist and doesn't dare to go any further. However, this Black Infernal Mist has existed for countless years. Apparently, back when it first came into existence, that era was when the Tian Peng Race was at the height of its powers and ruled over virtually the entire Flying Spirit Race," the cow-headed beast replied with a wry smile.
"That's true. Regardless of what lurks within that Black Infernal Mist, it won't be of any benefit to us. With our cultivation bases, we'd be dead as soon as we entered the mist, anyway," the three-headed python sighed with a nod.
After that, the small beast and the giant python conversed with one another for a while longer before the former withdrew its demon core, and they flew away as streaks of demonic winds.
Not long after their departure, spatial fluctuations erupted from nearby, and a faint azure humanoid figure emerged out of thin air.
It was none other than Han Li, who was supposed to have left quite a while ago.
He glanced at the departing beasts in the distance with a smile on his face, then suddenly made a grabbing motion toward the spot where the two beasts had originally been situated.
Golden light flashed, and a fingernail-sized golden insect suddenly emerged. It was a Gold Devouring Beetle that had been shrunk down to less than a tenth of its original size.
The insect spread open its wings and flew onto Han Li's palm
Han Li pointed a finger at the spirit insect as he closed his eyes, instantly withdrawing the wisp of spiritual sense that he'd imbued the beetle with. As a result, he was able to glean the entire conversation between the two beasts.
"Black Infernal Mist, half-ghost half-demon, slave marks? Interesting... If the people on the Tian Peng Race are unable to reside on the island, then I won't have anything to fear. Who would've thought that a few demon beasts of such a lowly caliber would be able to procure a vastly effective body refinement medicine like the Golden Marrow Crystal Insect? Even the Body Integration Stage elders of Deep Heaven City are unable to source such a medicine. If I can find another few ingredients, I'll be able to manifest my Provenance True Devil Projection in a substantial form, much like the Vajra Dharmic Body of the Buddhist factions. Hehe, as for the Golden Coral Sand, that's also something I'm in urgent need of it. If I can use that to refine my blood and flesh, it'd definitely make my body even more powerful..." After murmuring to himself for a while, Han Li suddenly burst into elated laughter.
However, his laughter quickly cut off as a thought suddenly occurred to him. The projections of the great bird and the five-colored phoenix abruptly appeared behind him, and a pair of glittering and translucent wings emerged from his back.
Han Li only had to gently flap those wings before his body was propelled through the air as a translucent thread.
A long azure rift instantly appeared in the air as if something were slicing through space, quickly disappearing into the distance.
After unleashing his Thunderstorm Wings, which had already been refined into a spirit treasure, the speed of Han Li's flight was enhanced by severalfold. In just over two days, he flew out of the island's boundaries and appeared over a region of the ocean that was tens of thousands of kilometers away from the island.
This region of the ocean was littered with coral reefs of all shapes and sizes, the largest of which resembled small islands while the smallest only had just enough room for a single person to stand on.
Han Li had his arms crossed as he hovered in mid-air above a coral reef that was several acres in size.
This was the location of where the so-called Lord of Treasured Light resided, and Han Li had learned of this location from using the soul search technique on that fish demon.
This Lord of Treasure Light was actually a demon beast that had only recently ascended to the eighth grade. Around 200 years ago, it had roamed to this place and settled here after subduing seven or eight nearby sea beasts.
The cow-headed beast and the demon beasts on the island had exchanged some spirit medicines with this demon beast's subordinates, and that was the only connection they had with this metamorphosis stage demon beast. As such, they decided to employ this demon beast's services through the use of Golden Marrow Crystal Insects after realizing that they wouldn't be able to conquer Han Li's cave abode on their own.
Of course, these beasts had only done this after underestimating Han Li's true cultivation base, thinking that he was a Nascent Soul cultivator at most. Otherwise, they wouldn't have dared to engage in such a suicidal endeavor.
Han Li didn't delay any longer as he flipped his hand over to extend a glossy black palm from within his sleeve that slowly pressed down toward the coral reef down below.
A resounding boom erupted as the projection of a small mountain surfaced from the palm, then rapidly expanded within a burst of grey light before taking on a substantial form and slowly descending.
Han Li had maximized the size of the Divine Essencefused Mountain, expanding it to over 10,000 feet in size, and the Divine Essencefused Light emanating from the bottom of the mountain swept forth, enshrouding a region of the ocean that was several acres in size.